6 Jewish Connections to Super Bowl LIII
32 teams set-out to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the beginning of the 2018 season. Now only two teams remain the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. Tonight, one of those teams will etch their names in football history.
While our beloved Baltimore Ravens aren’t playing in tonight’s Big Game, you’re more closely connected than you might think.
Here are six Jewish connections to the Super Bowl:
NFL players aren’t overwhelmingly Jewish, but to no one’s great surprise, Jews make up a reasonable portion of the professional football community, starting at the very top: the owners.
Arthur Blank, the Jewish-owner of the Atlanta Falcons, will play host to this year’s Super Bowl. Blank is a staple of the Atlanta Jewish community, a co-founder of Home Depot and a noted philanthropist.
Representing the tribe in Super Bowl LIII is New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Among the most regularly practicing Jewish owners of the NFL, Kraft grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, at Congregation Kehillath Israel, where his father was a lay leader.
Kraft delivered a keynote address at Yeshiva University in 2016, discussing his Jewish upbringing, among other topics. He said that his father pushed him to become a rabbi, but he instead went into business, initially working for a packaging company owned by his father-in-law.
Recently, Kraft was a recipient of the 2019 Genesis Prize, sometimes referred to as the “Jewish Nobel,” for his work combating anti-Semitism and support for the state of Israel.
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is a proud Jew, having expressed his Judaism on several occasions. Edelman wore a pin with the U.S. and Israeli flags during a game against the Denver Broncos in November 2014.
Edelman was also on El Al’s inaugural non-stop flight from Boston to Tel Aviv in 2015. After Edelman touched down in Israel — with representatives of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and a group of Boston-area young adults — he made the most of his first visit saying:
“Exploring my heritage is something I started in the past few years and seeing Israel for the first time, really getting a sense of its history and culture, I now truly understand why it’s so special."
Edelman was recently ranked as the fourth best Jewish football player of all-time. You can check out the full list of the best Jewish football players of all-time here.
The list of athletes who played on a Super Bowl-winning team is short. The list of Jews to win the big game is even smaller, including: Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Randy “The Rabbi” Grossman (who won a Jewish-record four times in 1975, ’76, ’77, ’78), San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Harris Barton (1989, ’90, ’95), 49ers tight end John Frank (1985, ’89), Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Alan “Shlomo” Veingrad (1993), Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Bobby Stein Bobby Stein (1970), Miami Dolphins offensive guard Ed Newman (1973) and Los Angeles Raiders defensive end Lyle Alzado (1984).
Nachum Segal, a New York City based Jewish radio personality, will host a “Kosher Halftime Show,” featuring a violinist, Orthodox Jewish rapper and social media influencer, along with commercials for kosher food and Jewish organizations.
Speaking of the Halftime Show, Jewish singer-songwriter Adam Levine and his three-time Grammy winning band Maroon 5 is this year's headliner. Maroon 5 will be joined by Travis Scott, a Grammy nominated rapper, and Big Boi, who is from Atlanta, which will be hosting the proceedings at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
- The Super Bowl Five, as they are known – despite the death of their president last year – are a group of four Jewish friends who have attended at every Super Bowl for 52 years and counting.